In a well-made prosthetic eye, tears should flow evenly across the prosthesis just as they do over the natural eye — in a sheet-like fashion, rather than collecting in droplets. We call this type of behavior hydrophilic — “water loving.” Hydrophobic (“water fearing”) artificial eyes repel water, much like the surface of a waxed car.

The difference between a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic piece can have dramatic differences in the satisfaction for the patient. Hydrophobic pieces can lead to feelings of dryness and discomfort, excess mucus secretion, blistering and giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC). It’s important to note that some of these problems may arise from the patient’s own biology.  But often, they arise because of problems that the ocularist creates. The waxes used to polish pieces are sometimes not cleaned off properly and the patient’s prosthesis repels tears.

Image courtesy: John Stolpe, BCO

Actual Patient with Hydrophobic Surface

Actual Patient with Hydrophilic Digital Artificial Eyes

Closeup of the Same Digitally 3D Artificial Eyes